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Health psychology in applied settings

Portelli, P. (2015). Health psychology in applied settings. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Pain is an inevitable human experience. Despite its crucial role for survival, pain becomes problematic when it is enduring and when it impairs the individual’s quality of life. Living with pain on a day-to-day basis can be exhausting, especially when nothing seems to relieve the pain. The way chronic pain sufferers perceive their situation will determine the kind of coping strategies used. The main research thesis within this portfolio aimed to explore differences in pain coping mechanisms amongst the Maltese population. The emergent theory resulted from a grounded theory methodology and was entitled The Journey to Coping. Results reveal that Maltese chronic pain sufferers often rely on a number of self-taught/sought techniques to cope with pain. The journey to coping is not an easy one, with some participants engaging in relentless struggles to eliminate pain. The inability to achieve control often leads to a sense of disconnectedness from the external world, with death perceived as the only solution. On the other hand, accepting pain was linked to increased adaptation and psychological well-being. The main research also aimed to investigate service users’ attitudes towards psychological treatments, with particular reference to online interventions for pain management. Overall, results reveal that escalating pain; the inability to find pain relief; positive expectancies, and a number of facilitating factors play a role in the formation of positive attitudes and increase the likelihood of service uptake. On the other hand, a number of impeding factors and negative expectancies revolving around perceptions of weakness and equating pain with the physical body not only resulted in a number of negative attitudes but hindered help-seeking behaviour. Moreover, although chronic pain sufferers are quite accepting of online interventions, the presence of the human element seems to be an indispensable asset to service uptake as reflected in the theory entitled Wanting the Real Thing.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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